At the rally there were some questions about huts and rates.
Before I started my six hut project I spoke to Michael and Marion who own the old hut on our site which was built by Michael's father. They were very supportive and the only question from them was how would if affect them. I had no intention of asking them to sign a lease and pay the "new" rent unless they asked to. The arrangement we have with them has been just fine and totally problem free for 70 years. However I did just flag up to them that the local authority were likely to become aware of their existence which was kind of unavoidable.
I also knew from some friends who have a hut at Palnackie a few miles away that there were unlkely to be rates payable. They had been paying rates on their hut untill a rates assesor appeared one day with a clip board and informed them that they shouldn't be! Happy day! but there had obviously been rates charged in the past so presumably there could be a change of policy in future.
The following is what happened to us in Dumfries and Galloway. Shortly after we started building(I think my hut had been erected and the second one partly built) I had a visit from a rates assesor. I took him to the site in our pickup and on the way he said he would like to see all the hut sites but after seeing mine and measuring it and the partialy built one he said he was happy they were being built according to the plans and didn't need to see the rest. I should just let him know when each was completed along with the contact details of the owners and he would get the detail from the plans. It just so happened that Michael was at his hut and he let the nice man in to measure his hut too. So the 70 year old hut now officially exists.
In April 2019 I recieved a rates assesment of £475 for my hut This is not a bill but I was told that I would probaby get a bill in due course and then I could apply for an exemption through The Small Business Bonus Scheme.
Right enough, about a month later I got a bill for £232.75
I then contacted them and applied for my exemption. About a month later I got another bill saying I owed £0
A lot of paper but reasonably straight forward. It all seems a bit daft and huts are not busineses but it would seem the councils only mechanism for registering the existence of new(and old) huts. Maybe some day when huts are more mainstream it'll all be dead simple!
Now for the really silly bit! Sometime after that I had a letter from Scottish Water wanting to know if my hut was connected to mains water or public drainage or sewage system. I filled in the form and sent it off. A few months later I got another letter saying they had had a request to fit a water meter. I phoned them and said there had been some mistake. No, this is auto speak for "a man will be coming to look and see that you really, really aren't connected to anything and that you really, really dont need a water meter"! The aforementioned man arrived, appologising and rolling his eyes a good deal. It took him a few minutes, nay, seconds to see I didn't have what I'd said I didn't have. I offered to show him all the huts while he was there but no, he would have to be notified by Scottish Water and contact each owner individually and come back again (another 6 times presumably)
Cant help feeling things could maybe be a tiny wee bit more joined up.